Stop, look, and listen

The minute you walk in the door the barrage begins...a customer got food poisoning, an employee quit, a delivery is wrong, a fire started in the kitchen.

And your job as a good foodservice manager is to put out all those fires...and keep costs down, sales up, and customers walking through the door. But at the end of a harried day, have you paid attention to your most valuable asset—your employees?

"Of course," you say. "I solve their customer complaints. I tell them what to do. I order them supplies to make their jobs easier." But what do your employees say about you when you're not there? How do they rate you as a manager? Do they feel appreciated for the work they do?

Not sure? Not surprising. The number one complaint cited by employees about a former manager or employer was poor communication. So try this: stop telling them what to do, take a look around you, and start listening to what your employees have to say. Communication is a two way street. If you want to send the message to your employees that you value their opinions—if you want to be more than a manager to your employees—if you want to be a leader—ask for their feedback.

There are lots of ways to ask for feedback: 30 Second Boosts, Server Feedback Cards, focus groups, One-On-One's, just listening. But a great place to start is with an Employee Evaluation of Management. Distribute a simple evaluation form to all employees. Let them know that you're interested in how they'd make your restaurant a better place, and you a better manager. The evaluation should be kept simple—about 15 questions with 1 to 5 ratings, and some room to make comments. We've attached our own manager evaluation form to download. Tally the results, and share them with your staff, along with action steps you plan to take as a result of their responses.

I know this isn't always easy, and that we might not like what we hear. But there's a reason we have two ears and only one mouth. Besides, you might be impressed by the insights you receive.

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